It seems no matter where you surf on the web or what radio station you move the dial too the past few days. There have been reports that starting middle linebacker Barrett Ruud is frustrated with the teams’ decision to extend Donald Penn and not him. Ruud who dodged the media following Penn’s contract extension publicly addressed the media and voiced his disappointment.
“Obviously, I’m very disappointed,” Ruud told the Tampa Tribune. “I’m not real happy about it. I’m very happy for Donald and I’m very happy for Gerald [McCoy]. Very happy for all the guys who signed the last couple of years, but definitely it’s pretty frustrating on my end.”
But now it has gotten too the point where Jeff Faine, one of his veteran teammates has decided to weigh in on the topic, albeit siding with management.
“I understand, but at the same time, [Rudd]’s under contract,” Faine told Chris Harry of Fanhouse.com. “If you’re going to have issues with the last year of the contract, don’t sign the contract. I’m really tired of [that]. … This is me, as a player — and we’ve been taught [by the union] not to talk about the league and guys around the league — but as a player in that position [last year of his contract] , I came to camp, I did everything. I could have easily done the same thing and held out for an extension and wanted a new contract … but I signed the contract as a rookie and that was the last year of my contract. If I didn’t want a five-year contract, I should have signed a four-year contract.”
Faine going public with his problems with Ruud’s contract impasse with the team isn’t going to help a team trying to scratch its way out of the cellar. Furthermore the situation surrounding both players holding out the past two off seasons is quite different in nature. Ruud who signed a five year contract after being drafted out of Nebraska in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Buccaneers had fulfilled his contractual agreement with the team and was only retained due to the fact the owners opted out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. This called for new rules governing an uncapped season to be used, which stipulates players must have six accrued seasons to become a free agent, for Ruud it meant that even though he completed his contractual obligation he was not a free agent.
Penn who was a restricted free agent last off-season under the old CBA rules because he had only been in the league three years was tendered at the highest possible amount and begrudgingly signed. Then staunchly decided after being tendered for a second straight season that he wanted to be rewarded for the fruits of his labor and threatened to holdout as the team and general manager maintained a united front and a stance that they would not negotiate a long term deal with Penn only to turn around and negotiate a long term contract extension that was signed before the teams first training camp practice.
Ruud who has amassed 552 tackles from 2007-09, the most tackles in Buccaneers history during a three year span is left wondering about his future with the team. He skipped offseason workouts and organized team activities a year ago, hoping to force the Bucs to the bargaining table to negotiate a contract extension to no avail, but still responded with a career-high 205 tackle performance, the second most in club history.
He has increased his tackle total every year he’s been in the NFL, from seven as a rookie to 59 in his second season to 169 in his first year as a starter, and then to 178 and, last year, a career-high 205. In 2010, Ruud could join Derrick Brooks as the only players in team history to lead the Buccaneers in tackles for four consecutive seasons.
Back in April Ruud told the St. Petersburg Times “The explanation is pretty clear throughout the league, it’s a very unlucky time to be a free agent. A free agent is not a free agent right now (because of the status of the collective bargaining agreement). You’re sort of stuck. If I had come out one year earlier in the draft, I’d be fine. There’s definitely no animosity right now.
Ruud who stated he had no animosity towards the organization back in April clearly is harboring some animosity now, that the team extended Penn under a similar set of circumstances as his own. Understands it’s a business but is approaching it like a one-year-prove-it deal.